European Wild Cat

European Wild Cat at Wingham Wildlife Park

Size
This cat reaches lengths of 18 inches to 32 inches (45cm to 80cm) and can weight between 3Kg and 8Kg.

Habitat and Distribution
The habitat of this cat is generally woodland and its surrounding areas.  Their range across much of Europe and parts of Asia include, Scotland, Southern Greece, Southern Spain, Italy, Romania, South Western Russia and South Western Asia.

Age
The average life expectancy of this cat is around 15 years.

Diet
For the most part this cats diet is made up of small mammals such as rats, mice and even small rabbits, however occasionally it will also take birds.

Groups and Breeding
This is a solitary species which maintains territories of around 3 squared kilometres although will socialise during their breeding season which extends from February to March with Kittens being born after a gestation of 62 to 68 days.  This litter of kittens is usually made up of 2 to 4 individuals although up to around 8 are not unheard of.

Threats
Persecution from game keepers and farmers used to be a major threat to this species however more recently all of those have been encouraged to tolerate this species as it is a useful natural pest control.  The main threats to this species now come from domesticated cats which firstly bring with them new feline diseases which the wild cats have no immunity to but also present a target for natural cross breeding which is making the future of this species as a pure species uncertain.

Interesting Facts
This cat used to be a resident of England and Wales, however due to persecution particularly from game keepers, they were either killed or driven out, with the only surviving populations in the United Kingdom now existing in Scotland.